Guide to Visiting the Brecon Beacons Waterfalls

By on Published: March 29, 2021 | Last Updated: April 9, 2021 in UK, Western Europe with 0 Comments

Guide to Visiting the Brecon Beacon Waterfalls in Wales

Ah the beauty of Wales knows no bounds!

Honestly, the one good thing about the pandemic is that it gave me the opportunity to fall in love with this country because, rather embarrassingly I just hadn’t explored this area until 2020 swung around.

But being stranded in the UK and forced to discover more of my own backyard / homeland, I was absolutely delighted to stumble into the magic and rugged charm of this ancient land.

And there’s perhaps nowhere that really gets me in this mood more than the Brecon Beacons.

One of the oldest national parks in the UK, this mountainous reserve offers stunning scenery, great hiking, beautiful camping opps and the overarching ability to get lost in the wild outdoors.

It’s a total treat.

And if you’re planning to head here and experience the beauty too, then you can’t miss the Brecon Beacons Waterfalls!

One of the highlights of this national park,  here’s my full guide to visiting them…


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Brecon Beacons Waterfalls: The Basics

Wales, Brecon Beacons, Waterfall 1

Situated in the southeast of the famous Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales, the waterfalls are one of this area’s most enchanting, and also one of its most popular, attractions.

One thing I didn’t realise before I came to this epic area however, was quite how many waterfalls and walks there are; so trust me, it pays to do your research in advance, because there’s actually a lot!

Although the waterfalls and trails are all located fairly near each other, which makes routes and itineraries easy to decide on the day – it is good to have at least an idea of which waterfalls you’re going to visit, which walks you are going to undertake and where you are going to park!

After all, you should really allow the best part of a day to explore this area of the Brecon Beacons, particularly if you need to drive to “Waterfall Country” as it’s known, and especially if you want to do one of the longer hikes, and stop to take a lot of photos.

This is the sort of environment to be savoured, not rushed along, and meandering along the trails through the beautiful landscape here, marvelling at the waterfalls, posing for snaps and enjoying some hiking snacks as you sit and take in the beauty is all part of the fun!

 

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How to Get There

Wales, Brecon Beacons, Sheep on Road

So now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to visit the Brecon Beacon Waterfalls, it’s time to talk about how to get there.

The nearest city to Waterfall Country is Swansea, from where it takes about an hour to drive to the area.

Alternatively, you can head to this part of the Beacons from the Welsh capital, Cardiff, which also takes around an hour.

If you’re already staying in the Brecon Beacons area, perhaps camping in the National Park, then it will be even quicker for you to access the waterfall area.

As an example, from Brecon town, it’s around 35 minutes to get there.

As with all these options, I recommend having your own vehicle to see the waterfall area as this will give you a lot more flexibility.

Normally I’m a big advocate of public transport as you know (better for the environment and your budget, so what’s not to love?!), but given the rural and remote area of the Brecon Beacons waterfalls, I have to admit that in this instance, a car will be best.

Not only is public transport extremely limited here, but you’ll also be confined as you what trails you can do, how long you can spend in the area and where you can head off to after.

All in all, having your own vehicle is the best way to discover this area.

You can use your own vehicle of course or, if you need to rent one, then there’s plenty of options from both Swansea and Cardiff.

I highly recommend Thrifty Car Hire, who are very reputable and have some great deals, including on electric cars if you want to be as eco-conscious as possible.

If you’re looking to get to either Swansea or Cardiff from London, or wherever else you are in the UK, then I highly recommend using Trainline to compare prices on both trains and coaches to both these Welsh cities.

 

Parking at the Waterfalls

Wales, Brecon Beacons, Fields

Once you’ve made it to Waterfall Country, it’s time to park up.

This is probably the only downside to the area, as parking is limited and get very busy early on meaning that, often by lunchtime, there are just no spaces left, which is annoying.

The parking is also paid, arranged through Pay and Display meters.

Most start at around £4 for a couple of hours and go up from there, depending how long you plan to spend in the area.

It really does pay to think about which waterfalls and hikes you might like to enjoy beforehand, as each has a car park that’s closest to the trailhead and you probably don’t want to add on to your parking costs or hiking time by driving your vehicle to a car park that will add hours to your plan!

Here’s a list all the car parks in the Brecon Beacons waterfall area and then I’ll name which is best for which waterfalls trails in the walk section of this article…

Brecon Beacon Waterfalls car parks include:

  1. Cwm Porth
  2. Dinas Rock
  3. Gwaun Hepste
  4. Clun-Gwyn
  5. Pont Melin-Fach

 

List of Brecon Beacons Waterfalls

Wales, Brecon Beacons, Waterfall 4

So now I want to list all the major waterfalls in this area, so that you can get a sense of how many there are and also how you might being to plan your day seeing them.

Many of these waterfalls are grouped together, meaning they are nearby each other and usually seen together as part of one trail or one section of waterfall country.

I’ve tried to group them together in my list below too, so that you can get more of a grasp of the area’s layout.

I’ve also indicated which are the main players, the bucket list big boys if you will!

I’m sure you will.

Also worth pointing out, is the fact that all the waterfall names are in Welsh, but don’t worry if you can get lost on the pronunciation… just about everyone does!

FYI: Sgwd means cascade in Welsh, it’s the words after that which you need to pay attention to the most!

It’s also worth learning the translation of the waterfall names, as many give clues as to their appearance, formation or history, providing some really interesting information about this area and its heritage.

Brecon Beacon Waterfalls include:

  1. Sgwd Clun-Gwyn
  2. Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn
  3. Sgwd y Pannwr
  4. Sgwd-yr-Eira

The above tend to be the main 4 waterfalls most people head to see. They are part of the famous Four Falls Trail. Sgwd-yr-Eira is set slightly apart, and can also be accessed by itself as part of the Eira trail.

  1. Sgwd Gwladus
  2. Sgwd-y-Bedol
  3. Sgwd Ddwli Isaf
  4. Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf

These 4 waterfalls are set slightly apart to the west and have their own trails to see them. They tend to be slightly less busy.

  1. Sgydau Sychryd

This waterfall is very close to a parking area and therefore one of the most accessible. Near it are other interesting natural features including Bwa Maen and Pwell Berw.

 

Waterfall Walks

Wales, Brecon Beacons, Waterfall Walks

And finally, we get on to talking about the best part of the Brecon Beacons waterfalls in my opinion, the walks here!

Largely speaking, there are 4 main trails to enjoy in the area – these are named trails that are well-signposted and will lead to one of the 4 groups of waterfalls I’ve outlined above.

However it’s worth noting at this stage, that there’s also a lot of unnamed and unmarked trails around the waterfalls that lead you in all sorts of directions!

On the plus side, this is really great for exploring more, for linking trails together and for providing route flexibility.

On the other hand, it can be quite confusing and easy to get lost!

As such, I highly recommend downloading the maps.me copy of the area so that, even if you lose phone signal, you can access a real time map that can help show you the way to or back to your car!

 

Brecon Beacon Walks include:

  1. Four Falls Trail

This is the most popular trail in the area as it takes you to the 4 main waterfalls of Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd y Pannwr and Sgwd-yr-Eira.

This is a strenuous hike which is around 5.5 miles long and parking is best at either Gwaun Hepste or Cwm Porth.

You can also park at Clun-Gwyn if you want a shorter circular option.

If you park at Gwaun Hepste or Cwm Porth, then part of the trail will involve you doubling back on yourself along the same trail to reach your vehicle.

However this doesn’t detract from the beauty of this waterfall walk which, in my personal opinion, is the walk you should enjoy if you only have the time for one.

 

  1. Elidir Trail

This is the second longest named trail in the waterfall area as it takes you to visit Sgwd Gwladus, Sgwd-y-Bedol, Sgwd Ddwli Isaf and Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf.

However it is not as difficult or strenuous as the Four Falls Trail and is under 3 miles long.

For this hike, I suggest parking at either Pont Melin-Fach car park, or you can park at Pontneddfechan Village if you want to extend the hike slightly.

 

  1. Sychryd Trail

This is a very gentle trail that takes you to Sgydau Sychryd, as well as the natural attractions of Bwa Maen and Pwell Berw.

At less than 1 mile, it’s very accessible and is the best option for families or those with robust wheelchairs or buggies.

 

  1. Sgwd-yr-Eira Trail

This is the walk that takes you just to Sgwd-yr-Eira, cutting out the other 3 options that make up the Four Falls Trail.

As such, it’s better for those who might need a shorter walk, but still want to enjoy the beauty of the area.

This trail is 2 miles and starts from the Dinas Car Park. You can also download and listen to an audio guide as you make this stroll – great for history buffs!

 

5 Essential Waterfall Packing Items

Wales, Brecon Beacons, View

#1 Walking Shoes

You can’t come to the Brecon Beacon waterfalls and not enjoy some of the epic trails here.

So walking shoes are a must!

I highly recommend these lightweight and comfortable ones from North Face, which are perfect for the job.

 

#2 Waterproof, Windproof Jacket

Look, as paradisical as I’ve made the Brecon Beacons NP sound (and it is), it also is Wales!

And that green around isn’t green for nothing!

It’s green because it rains a lot.

A lot of the year.

So bring a good waterproof and windproof jacket with you no matter what time of year you’re coming, ok?!

 

#3 Good Day Pack

If you’re going to be spending a day in and around the waterfalls, and especially if you’re going to be hiking any of the trails, a good quality day pack is a must.

I always carry one with me, to ensure I can day trip with everything I might need (snacks, water, camera, coat etc) and also to ensure the weight of these items is safely and equally distributed across my back and shoulders.

My top recommendation for travellers is the Marmot Kompressor, because it packs down to nothing and is water-resistant… I absolutely love it!

 

#4 Camera

Having an excellent camera to snap the Brecon Beacons waterfalls in all their glory, and preserve the memories of this beautiful area, is an absolute given if you’re travelling to this idyllic spot.

I love my Sony A6000 mirrorless, which never leaves my side and is perfect for travel.

I also enjoyed having a GoPro when I was here, to capture all the water action.

 

#5 Portable Power Bank

There’s no denying, power can be an issue down in the Beacons, especially if you’re camping in the area for a couple of days.

Even if you have a powered site, remembering to charge stuff up, leaving it out overnight, or during the day, and constantly rotate electricals can be tiresome.

My solution: Come armed with 2 fully charged Anker power banks, so you can fire up your phone, camera or other devices whenever and wherever you need.

Even while you’re down at the waterfalls!

 

Top Tips for Visiting the Waterfalls

Wales, Brecon Beacons, Waterfall 3

  • Always pick up your litter or rubbish – carrying a bag you can use for waste, with you, is a good idea
  • Download maps.me so you have an offline copy of the area and use either AllTrails or Kamoot to read reviews or and select hikes
  • Always tell someone where you are going and what time you are expected to be back
  • Remember to carry all the supplies you may need with you, as this is a rural area where shops and stores are limited
  • Ditto, remember to have enough fuel in your vehicle to get you to the waterfalls and back!
  • Take care when driving on the thin and narrow lanes of the Brecon Beacons National Park and watch out for wildlife, walkers, horse riders and cyclists.
  • Good hiking footwear with ankle support is a must when completing most of the waterfall trails as the ground is bumpy and uneven
  • Do not jump into or off the waterfalls
  • Please go to the toilet before you visit this area as there are next to no facilities here, aside from the odd public toilet in a car park

 

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So there you have it, my full guide to visiting the Brecon Beacons waterfalls.

Hope you’ve found the information helpful in planning your trip.

And please, if you have any more tips and tricks that could help fellow travellers out, don’t forget to drop them into the comments box below…

 

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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